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From: (FireCat)
Subject: Re: Placards

I'm E-mailing you because I currently don't have access to the forums, and it takes me 20 minutes to load each page anyway. E-mail is quicker.

I read your initial reply to the initial article. I agreed with most of what you said, and had a comment on something near the end. Re-reading it now, I have no idea what that was.

This probably has something to do with the fact that I've spent the past straight ten hours typing (the first eight of them typing madly), and my brain is so exhausted I can't UNDERSTAND half of the article or your reply, let alone muster a coherent reply to either.

But since I'm in that writing mood, and I have something to say, and it actually does seem relevant to what was being discussed . . . I'll toss it in anyway.

Gamers are minorities - true or not true? Many people seem to think so. But more than any 'majority', the minorities can't afford to be split; they don't have enough to survive. Proposal -

Wait, I remember where I was. People like both to be thought of as unique, and as a group, yes. But what I think he was saying was that noone likes to be told 'You are TOTALLY identical to everyone around you, you have NO dissimilarities at all.'; I'd reference the paragraph, but then I'd lose my other train of thought.

Proposal - gamers are more weird than most. Not the most overall. But on a scale, we're probably somewhere near the high end. I say this based on the assumption that in order for people inside a group to identify with that group, they either respect the opinions of people outside it, or recognize similarities with the others in it. And this recognition occurs often enough for them to give it more than a passing thought (or even that - how many people do you pass on the street every day taking note of them also
wearing glasses, etcetera). A lot of people within the group would recognize and agree on those same similarities - see that other people saw it too. So, lots of small similarities (they are all wearing the same color of clothing as me, same uniform, same haircut - we're probably in a group together . . . shit, I joined the ARMY last night! never get drunk again [that example was just the first that came to mind, it never actually happened to me - I never get drunk], I promise) or a few key similarities (unusual or uncommon ones) will contribute to the sense of a group. Other than the obvious (actual gaming), I've found very little to actually be similar between any two gamers I've seen - extremely so for any three, or four. In fact, one of the most common similarities (other than gaming, obviously) is the view that all other gamers are weird. Well, not exactly. Sometimes it's just delivered one by one, on an individual basis, or about the entire group after coming for one session to watch.

Interlude - it's one week later. I was typing along when suddenly it occurred to me. An astonishing insight (more so when you take into account the state of mind I was in at the time), that if I was tired and hungry, I should go get something to eat, go to sleep, eat something again when I woke up, and come back to the computer. I finished my letter, quit, and staggered off to do just that, then came back the next morning to find that half my letter was gone. Looking back on it, that question it asked me when I quit must have been 'Would you like to save?', and clicking 'No' in lieu of 'Bother me with it tomorrow.' was probably not the wisest thing to do.


So now, though I cannot hope to attain that level of linguistic mastery a second time, I will try to recall the essence of what I meant to say.

So, we know we're in a group -DESPITE- the fact that we are recognizing more qualities as differences than similarities. And use those very differences to tie us into the group.

But then we have the gamers who decide that they are REPRESENTATIVE of the group. All their qualities, all they do, and even the way they do it, IS gaming/roleplaying. Their way is the RIGHT way, and any gamers who don't do it need to be changed - it's as simple as that. They vehemently tell people to change, though none give any reasons except pointing to their own and
exemplifying those as 'roleplaying' or 'gaming', and vilifying others for THEIR style of it (if any different). It's like the person who demands that everyone walk with a limp today, because they stubbed their toe and it's just not FAIR that noone else's foot hurts!

Even worse, alas, are the ones who take this to the recognition phase. They know that they possess (if not know of) every quality common to the group, and noone else can be a TRUE gamer if they don't match these. If they don't recognize any of those (read: their own) qualities in meeting someone, spending time with them, or hearing about them, ergo, that person must NOT BE A GAMER. They cannot belong to the group unless they share some common qualities with the group - and doesn't our gamer HAVE every such quality?

Alas, such prejudice only drives wedges into the community, and since (as a minority) there are so few of us, we can't really survive such a split. Fortunately, in most cases, we just leave and find a different campaign, or sometimes manage to find a way of ignoring the person. But then there are the few who find themselves in a position of influence, and these can be most damaging to the group. Gamers who are just starting out, and either don't know to look for other people* or don't have the contacts to find
them, will find themselves in the position of either changing as the person pressures them to, or being discouraged away from gaming entirely because they BELIEVE that the person . . . IS representative of the entire group.

*Doing this will be highly discouraged by the prejudiced gamer, who not only implies that they are the only one around who can help, but if other sources are mentioned, will make the usual comments about how they're not REALLY gamers, and the only TRUE gamers/roleplayers are . . . well, take a wild friggin' guess . . . yours truly.

"You go anywhere else, and you'll find the same thing . . . they're just like me, but worse . . . so-and-so only CLAIMS to be a gamer, and these others are different (than they should* be), so are really bad examples of a gamer. Face it, I'm your best hope/choice/bet."

*"Some are missing essential parts of what it means to be a gamer/roleplayer, some have repulsive qualities you'll hate."

My point, to all this? Lamenting a sad state of affairs.

We need for (ALL) our members to recognize that our differences is one of the very qualities that makes us a group - that, uniformly, we can declare about most of the others 'You're weird.', and mean it. My depiction of the prejudiced gamer is, of course, as worst-case as I could make my imagination go. The scary thing is, every description except the above paragraph (in "quotes") was directly observed over the course of more than a year. I didn't have to go very far before my imagination rebelled at the idea of there being any further to go. To be plain, I'm not exaggerating.

Our very diversity is our strength - so long as we are united in purpose, that of gaming, to roleplay; it does not matter how we accomplish it, or why. Yet, some gamers seek to eliminate that diversity - to make all the gamers around them play in exactly the same way. If they were to succeed*, roleplaying would turn from a multi-faceted prism into a one-sided mirror. There are many different styles of roleplaying, and in seeking to roleplay better, many people look for more styles so they can improve.

*Let me just note, for the record, that I have no fears of that happening - if nothing else, because they would eventually encounter each other and both be destroyed in the ensueing conflict.

Staff Comments

As of 24/08/2003, this, and all other articles authored by FireCat which are held on this site, have been released into the public domain. Please feel free to use them as such.


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